How to Build a Bar (when you really don’t have space to build a bar)

Building a Bar (when you really don't have spar to build a bar)

Building a Bar (when you really don’t have space to build a bar)

As you’ve probably guessed from the short time I’ve been writing this blog, I’m a girl who likes to have a glass of wine now and again. I’m not much of a cocktail drinker (although I love the way they look–so crisp, so refreshing!), but I do love to entertain. And of course, one of the key elements of any cocktail party, no matter the size or occasion, is a well stocked bar. Unfortunately, not every home has the space or budget to build a custom made bar like you see in magazines.  How do you build a bar in a room where you really don’t have space to build a bar? What, you say, is the answer to this earth shattering question? The bar table, of course!

In our home, the main living area is next to the kitchen. It is tight space with a seating area, coffee table and the all important (but well hidden) toy basket. It flows right into the dining room so there is a dining table nestled in there as well. Needless to say, I don’t have much room. What I do have is a small (46 inches to be exact) open wall in between a window and a sliding glass door. So, off I went to hunt for the perfect bar table and art work that could fill up the wall space above it. I found these beauties:

Building A Bar

The spoils of my search  – bar table and wall art

I love this table because it is so simple. It is compact, has two good sized drawers, and the top is a tray that comes off. The best thing about the table is this map hidden under the glass on the tray top.


The best part of my bar table – the ACK map hidden underneath!

The sea fan art is from artist Karen Robertson. I have looked at and loved her sea fans forever so I waited and waited for one of’s great sales and got this at a great price. I just love it.

Then it was time to build the bar. My first stop was to Target where I found a great rattan tray (World Market now has this one, similar). Especially when you are working with many items in a small space–in this case, bottles, glasses, and various other bar accoutrement–organizing it into defined areas helps so it doesn’t look jumbled and messy.  I grouped all of the liquor bottles in the rattan tray and added essentials like an ice bucket and a cocktail shaker in smaller, compact sizes to save space.

Grouping bottles together on a rattan tray helps keep the small space looking organized and neat

Grouping bottles together on a rattan tray helps keep the small space looking organized and neat

Since I’m not a hard alcohol drinker, I rely on my husband to fill in here. He knows his stuff and mixes a mean cocktail. He’s one of those guys who orders an after dinner drink you have never heard of but it could burn your nose hairs off when it comes. His bottle selection for our bar table is:

  • Mount Gay gin (great for summer gin & tonics)
  • Bombay Sapphire gin
  • Pimm’s (to make a Pimm’s No 1 – a delicious lemonade cocktail famously served at Wimbleton. Click here for the history and recipes)
  • Belvedere Vodka (for the Belvedere martini)
  • Laphroaig Whiskey
  • Oban Whiskey
  • Armanac
  • Calvados (this is one of those nose burners)
  • Gentleman’s Jack
  • Gosling’s Diet Ginger Beer (to make Dark & Stormy’s)

When hosting a smaller group of people, I love to add a few fun extras like this Fever Tree tonic. They are just a bit more special and decorative than the grocery store variety and I’ve been told they taste great too.

After the liquor, its time to add glasses, and plenty of them, not only because you end up using them but because they look pretty and decorative when you are not using them. I like to include a variety of types and sizes, from wine glasses to my new favorite roadie cups.

Nantucket Roadie Cups from

Nantucket Roadie Cups from

Don’t forget these beautiful copper mugs for Dark & Stormy’s.  I added some cute party straws for a pretty little color punch.

Copper mugs

Copper mugs are a nice touch for a Dark & Stormy

I was under the impression that one size tumbler glass would suffice but I was emphatically told by my husband that certain drinks require very specific glassware. I never mind a good shopping quest so for the past few years, I have been on a mission to find the perfect Highball and Old Fashioned glasses. When I finally found the perfect ones from Juliska, I knew I had to have them monogrammed:

Monogrammed glasses

Monogrammed High Ball & Old Fashioned glasses from Juliska

And finally, the last little details–cute cocktail napkins, an opener, cocktail picks and a wine bottle coaster.

Little Details

Little Details – Ikat napkins, cocktail picks…

And with that, one of life’s burning questions solved – who would have thought a 42″ x 24″ table could do so much?

Bar Table

Bar Table

A peek inside

A peek inside

House Guest Ready


House Guest Ready

It may make me a bit of an oddity, but I LOVE to have houseguests. I’m not exactly sure why but I think it is because everything seems a bit special–you sort of amp it up when friends or family come to visit. I set out our nice pillows and towels, serve treats for breakfast like homemade scones and fresh orange juice and show off all the special things about my town. Really, when was the last time you took the time to visit a museum, go for a long, scenic walk or take in the sights when you didn’t have houseguests?!?

I’ve finally gotten our guest room to be a room I love and I hope that it is a comfortable home away from home for friends who visit. In my gleeful planning for houseguests, I’ve tracked down a few good sources for pictures and articles about how to prep a guest room (see my list of sources below) but I thought I would also offer my own take.

Guest Room Essentials

  • Extra towels, sheets and pillows – In our guest room, we have this great bed form Pottery Barn that has wonderful, large baskets all the way around the bottom – a perfect place to stash lots of linens. I like to leave a little lavender sachet on top of each set to keep things fresh
  • Mirror
  • TV with a remote
  • Pen & paper
  • Tissues
  • Password for house Wi-Fi
  • A robe
  • A clock
  • A comfy mattress and cozy sheets 

Special Touches  (aka My Favorite Part)

1. Fresh flowers


2. Postcards, restaurant guide, guidebooks, map, and local magazines

Guide Books

3. A tote filled with toiletries – When I travel I always forget something dumb like a razor so I appreciate this. I filled ours with a lint brush (our dog sheds ALOT so this may actually fall in the Guest Room Essentials category), washcloths, toothpaste, razor, deodorant, a bar of soap and a night light

Toiletry Tote

4. Pineapple –no, not a real pineapple. Did you know that the pineapple is the symbol of hospitality, warmth & friendship?  I found this ceramic one at Home Goods a few years ago and I think it is kind of cool and just so perfect for a guest room


5. Books-I like to set out books that reflect the location or tell more about me as a host. I think David Giffel’s book The Hard Way on Purpose is a great one about Akron and growing up in Northeast Ohio like I did. Read more about it in the New York Times Book Review.


6. Guest Book – Its great to look back over years at who has visited and it is also fun to see what your guests write about their trip. So far, all good reviews!

Guest Book

7. Various trays and decorative dishes to hold personal belongings-I found this cloche on Anthropologie‘s web site. Not only is it cute but it provides a nice place for guests to put their jewelry. I also love these great little dishes from HomArt that I found at one of my favorite shops called The Lions Paw.












SO, what are YOUR guest room essentials and special touches?  What am I forgetting? Let me know what you do to get house guest ready. In the meantime, here are those resources I mentioned for prepping your guest room:


Guest Room Prep Resources:

Guest Room Essentials from Fox Hollow Cottage

How to Get Your Guest Room Ready for the Holidays from Glitter Guide

Preparing for House Guests from Martha Stewart

9 Guest Room Essentials from Woman’s Day



Office Inspiration

So, first of all, have you tried Polyvore? I’m loving it (and frankly, I’m a little obsessed). It is a web site that allows you to cull and curate fashion, home and beauty finds into your own collage style boards. For a wanna-be graphic designer like myself, it is simply the coolest way to beautifully organize any home design idea, outfit or creative project you may be contemplating. Plus, Polyvore’s CEO is a woman and I really love to hear about success stories in women-run companies, especially in the male dominated tech world. Here is a nice Q&A with Polyvore CEO Jess Lee from The Huffington Post, if you would like to learn more.

I’ve been thinking about creating a small office area in our basement but I wasn’t sure how I’d pull it all together so I figured I’d try out my ideas on Polyvore to see how everything looks. I had some thoughts about what I wanted as far as a color scheme but then I found this gorgeous color board on a web site called A Creative Mint that I used as my inspiration.

Image via A Creative Mint

Image via A Creative Mint

It just speaks to me. I love the blues and greens along with the little pop of pale pink in the roses and the coral color of the spool of thread. Lovely.

From there, I found images on Polyvore of the desk and chair I already purchased from Bungalow 5 and an accent table I found from Wisteria. Then I let my creativity go and searched the Polyvore web site and other sites to find various accent pieces and art I could put with my little room collage, and voila, here is my basement office! Or atleast how it appears in my head–and of course, on Polyvore 🙂

Stay tuned to see how it actually turns out…


Office Inspiration